Arizona Snowbowl broke season pass sale records this fall, but that's not all that's upbeat at the resort. The U.S. Supreme Court announced in June that it was refusing to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that would allow Snowbowl to proceed ahead with improvement plans to the resort.

All improvement plans-new lifts, runs, and lodges--hinge on installing a snowmaking system. "We are anxious to get snowmaking installed and glad that this is the last year we have to depend upon Mother Nature for snow," David Smith, Director of Sales and Marketing, told OnTheSnow.com. "We'll finally be able to set an opening and closing date in the future."

Designs are underway for the snowmaking system, and the resort plans to begin burying lines this spring. "It'll be full ahead this spring," added Smith.

Another lawsuit filed this September seeks to prevent using reclaimed wastewater on environmental grounds; the previous lawsuit that the Supreme Court denied hearing was based on religious reasons. The lawsuit derailed plans to install a beginner conveyor belt for this season. But the resort has purchased a new grooming machine to improve the quality of the snow surface.

The new lawsuit isn't dampening Snowbowl spirits. Locals flocked to the resort this summer in record numbers and have set a new record for season pass sales. Smith noted that record-breaking visitation in July and August should knock the summer rider above 40,000-smashing the previous record of 30,000. Season pass sales this fall also eclipsed all previous records.

"It looks like a lot of people are staying local," said Smith, adding that the buzz in Flagstaff is building for the ski season to begin. Snow already dusted the resort, and the word on many Arizonan's lips is "El Nino."

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